Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio poured gasoline on the cooling embers of the so-called “birther” movement Thursday afternoon with a jaw-dropping press conference in Phoenix. Speaking to the press, Arpaio said there was significant evidence that President Barack Obama’s birth certificate was a “computer-generated forgery.”
Last year Arpaio, widely known as a tough-on-crime elected official, appointed a five-member “cold case posse” to investigate a local tea party organization’s claim that the birth certificate was fraudulent.
“President Barack Obama’s long-form birth certificate released by the White House on April 27, 2011, is suspected to be a computer-generated forgery, not a scan of an original 1961 paper document as represented by the White House when the long-form birth certificate was made public,” Arpaio said, according to a transcript circulated by WorldNetDaily, an online publication that has doggedly pursued conspiracy theories about the president’s birth.
“A continuing investigation is needed to identify the identity of the person or persons involved in creating the alleged birth certificate forgery, and to determine who, if anyone, in the White House or the state of Hawaii may have authorized the forgery,” Arpaio added.
“Posse” member Michael Zullo said that “absent the authentic Hawaii Department of Health 1961 birth records for Barack Obama, there is no other credible proof supporting the idea or belief that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, as he and the White House have consistently asserted.”
“In fact, absent the authentication of Hawaii Department of Health 1961 birth records for Barack Obama, there is no other proof he was born anywhere within the United States,” added Zullo.
Conspiracy theories suggesting that Obama was not born in Hawaii have circulated since his rise to presidency. They were widely considered to have been discredited after Obama released the long-form version of his birth certificate following a media frenzy generated by billionaire Donald Trump last year.
“As I said at the beginning of the investigation,” Arpaio said Thursday, “the president can put all this to rest quite easily. All he has to do is demand the Hawaii Department of Health release to the American public and to a panel of certified court-authorized forensic examiners all original 1961 paper, microfilm, and computer birth records the Hawaii Department of Health has in its possession.”
The investigators claimed that they also have “credible evidence” that Obama’s Selective Service card was a forgery, and inferred a cover-up in the alleged disappearance of Immigration and Naturalization Service cards filled out by foreign visitors to the U.S. during the week of Obama’s birth.
In his closing remarks, Arpaio lectured the media, saying that “the investigation is not over” and that his effort should not be characterized as “pointless” or “silly.”
“These are two alleged crimes,” said Arpaio, “forgery and fraud.” Those crimes, he added, are felonies — and “those responsible, whoever they are, should be brought to justice.”
“We dont know who the perpetrators are,” admitted Arpaio. But the “posse” claims to have identified at least one potential person of interest.
“I can’t let it die, we have evidence,” said Arpaio when pressed by reporters. ”We have quite a bit more information.”